By now, you know the drill, under the microscope is the daddy of all crime investigation teams. Gil Grissom (William Peterson) – think Morse, only with a love of beetles instead of cryptic crosswords; Catherine Willows (Marg Hellgenberger, getting more glam by the year) - the ying to Grissom’s yang; and the rest of the team Nick Stokes (George Eads), Warrick Brown (Gary Dourdan), Sarah Sidle (Jorja Fox) and Greg Sanders (Eric Szmanda).

The start of the season comes in the wake of Nick Stokes’ burial alive in the Tarantino-directed double episode that wrapped up Season Five (5.1 and 5.2). While many US dramas rely on soapier plotlines, such as this, to keep viewers coming back week after week, for the CSI Vegas team it’s the puzzles that count. So much so that in the first half of Season 6 the team’s back stories are relegated so far – or manipulated so obviously – that it weakens it in overall effect.

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There are, initially, nods to Nick’s ordeal, particularly a delivery of a tape to Grissom which reveals his attacker in Season Five may not have been working independently, but, as is so often the case with the Vegas squad, the teaser hangs in the air for episodes before any mention is made of it again. Other ‘major’ character revelations the first half of the season include the sudden marriage of Warrick, which sparks an unbelievable – and quickly dropped – subplot in which Catherine admits she has always fancied him and the return of British actress Louise Lombard as Sofia Curtis, now playing a cop rather than a CSI – a switch some will remember Captain Jim Brass also made way back in the opening season.

With such thin back story, then, it’s just as well that the procedural aspects of the show remain as strong as ever. The first half of the season is packed with great puzzles. And while the greatest of the conundrums for fans remains: why did George Eads grow that dreadful Village People moustache for three episodes? – the more intentional mysteries are fun, too.

Stand-out episodes are the A Bullet Runs Through It two-part story, which sees the writers and directors throw away the procedural in favour of some serious action for a change, as cops Brass (the ever-wonderful Paul Guilfoyle) and Sofia come to the fore. Featuring an adrenalin-fuelled car-chase shoot out, these episodes also have a lot of emotional heart and provide the lynchpin for the first part of the series.

The cinematic technique is never less than cutting-edge, although occasionally, things get too stylish for their own good. There is much more reliance on the blue filter colour palette this season – previously so beloved of stablemate CSI: NY – and it is sometimes employed rather too obviously. Equally, the labs in all three of the CSI franchises seem to become more science fiction than science fact as the seasons progress, which is a pity, especially since producer and director Danny Cannon insists it’s the reality that is important.

The plotlines, however, run much more freely than in some of the previous series, presumably born out of confidence that grows year on year. By departing from the traditional format of A and B plotlines in several of the episodes – notably child abductions in Still Life and Gum Drops, and the furiously complex triumvirate of deaths in season opener Bodies In Motion – the scriptwriters are freed from the usual constraints, making for more engaging stories.

And while the characterisation may show slight signs of faltering – a temporary glitch if more recent episodes are anything to go by –the basic armoury of what makes CSI one of the most highly rated shows in the States and the jewel in Channel 5’s crown remains unaltered.

Episodes included: Bodies In Motion, Room Service, Bite Me, Shooting Stars, Gum Drops, Secrets & Flies, A Bullet Runs Through It, Part One, A Bullet Runs Through It, Part Two, Dog Eat Dog, Still Life, Werewolves, Daddy's Little Girl.

Reviewed on: 21 Feb 2007
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CSI: 6.1 packshot
After Nick's brush with death, the forensics team investigate more violence in Las Vegas.
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Director: Richard Lewis, Kenneth Fink, Jeffrey Hunt, Danny Cannon, Richard J. Lewis, Duane Clark

Writer: Carol Mendelsohn, Naren Shankar, Dustin Lee Abraham, Henry Alonso Myers, Josh Berman, Danny Cannon, Sarah Goldfinger, Richard Catalani, Dustin Lee Abraham, Allen MacDonald, David Rambo, Henry Alonso Myers

Starring: William L. Peterson, Marg Helgenberger, Paul Guilfoyle Gary Dourdan, George Eads, Jorja Fox, Eric Szmanda, Louise Lombard, Robert David Hall

Year: 2006

Runtime: 500 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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